Hello 2013!

Well, here it is! The mandatory New Year’s resolutions post. Short and simple this year.

  1. Finish my student teaching and (finally) graduate
    I know this will happen, it’s just a matter of 16 weeks of work and two tests!
  2. Get a good job
    Once I get that degree, it’ll be time to put it to work (no pun intended, but it… works..)
  3. Complete the Goruck Challenge
    I’m all signed up for the Challenge in Cedar Rapids on May 25th. I have five long months of training to get ready for some “Good Livin”, and I’m pumped!
  4. Live simply and be happy
    I think this one speaks for itself.

I feel like I did pretty well with my 2012 resolutions. Hopefully I can keep that up for 2013!


Goodbye 2012!

2012 is coming to a close, so that means it’s time to look back on how I reached my resolutions from earlier in the year.

  • Learn to cook

    Well, I made some pretty good dinners and breakfasts this year at school, and definitely ate healthier. I’d say I met this resolution, and plan to continue it next year!

  • Be more frugal

    My bank account tells me that this has happened. Wow, has life been easier when I’m not always buying junk!

  • Spend more time outdoors

    I began this year sticking to this, however, as the year went on, I got busier and wasn’t able to be outside as much as I would have liked. I still want to change that!

  • Read more

    I read quite a bit over the year. I’m happy with that, and will be keeping it up. I have a hefty “to read” list and and currently 52 pages into reading
    The Hobbit.

  • Start a workout habit

    This was hit and miss as I began teaching more. I’d say that eating healthier has helped me feel more “in shape”, and I’ve tried to pick this back up recently, as I just signed up for the GORUCK Challenge in May!

  • Clean at least once a week

    Yeah, I’ve done ok at this. I was much better with this in the dorms and apartment at school than at home. I need to pick this up (haha) back home now that I’ll be living here while I student teach.

  • Cut out clutter!

    This has happened, for sure. I think I’m gaining a keen sense for what is just stuff and what is necessary. Again, it just makes life so much easier.

So that’s how 2012 went for me, resolution wise! It was a good year, and here’s hoping that the next is even better! 2013 will have fewer resolutions, but there are some big events awaiting me in 2013 that I can’t wait to share! Stay tuned for those on Tuesday!

Help for Veterans

Today in class, we learned about how we can help veterans in our community. Many veterans are homeless, or have a lot of difficulties after returning from their tour of duty. During my research on how I can help veterans, I came upon The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The Wounded Warrior Project provides several ways to support veterans returning from combat after 9/11.

I created a poster supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports veterans and their families after their deployment, from hospital bills to supporting their children stay in school.

For the poster, I used an image from Goruck, another great company that supports veterans through the Goruck Challenge. The images shows a flag on the uniform of a soldier. The flag is what most people consider backwards, however, it is what is worn by all soldiers when they are in battle. It represents the flag that the US infantry would carry as they ran into battle. Goruck was founded by ex-special forces veterans, and the Goruck Challenge is run by other Special Forces veterans, and 10% of the challenge’s funds go to the Green Beret Foundation, which helps veterans of the Green Berets. I decided to make another quick poster for this cause too! I hope to complete a Goruck Challenge soon!

Obviously, I have great respect for all our nations veterans. These are just 2 ways we can help them.

Collaborative Learning Project/PBL

We present our PBL in class next week during finals. We decided to build upon our original PBL that we worked on earlier in the semester and focus on the idea of being more than a label, with the “I’m Tyler” video as a great example for this.

We decided to explore the idea of student individuality and “labels”, and to have the students discuss what makes them unique and more than a label in a video using iMovie.

Having a Dell, I haven’t used iMovie except just playing around with it, and it seems much simpler and professional than Windows Movie Maker. John made a Jing for the class to use to familiarize themselves with the aspects of iMovie that they will use for the lesson. We are actually fortunate that we will present during finals and have about 2 hours for the class to work on the project, since we are requiring iMovie and a youtube upload for their final product. Making use of the iMacs in the TML lab and schools high speed internet will help students complete the project in the class period.

I’m really excited to see how this goes, and looking forward to the lesson on Wednesday!

Global Learning, Pt II

Our CCA class had the opprotunity to Skype with Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), one of the founders of the Flat Classroom Project.

In EIF2011 I blogged about the flat classroom a few times, so if you want to know more about that, check out those links. I hate repeating myself 🙂

Our meeting with her was really fun. We talked about the flat classroom, how she and her colleagues came up with the idea for the project, and how the project worked. It was eye-opening to see the global learning we had talked about in class in reality, and to look at it again as a 3rd party, rather than being part of the project as we were in the fall.

Lincoln Elementary Visit

In March, we visited Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls, and got to observe their use of technology in the classroom. I really liked seeing the different ways they were integrating tech!

The 1st grade classrooms all had a set of iPodTouches, which they got with an outside grant they applied for.

Every class also had a mimeo board, which is able to make a white board work as a large touch-screen projector with the mimeo software suite. We observed students practicing math on it:

We also saw the classroom set of iPads that the school has. They are all synced monthly to a single school computer in the library while stored in this case:

The final thing we observed was a 5th grade class doing a PBL about creating a structure that would be as tall as a doorway (7 feet). They used Google Sketchup to test their designs, then were working in small groups to make the structures out of popsicle sticks. The students were completely engaged in this, and the teacher was facilitating learning, walking around the room and asking them about their designs. It was really a sight to see. In fact the only “alarm” that went off in my head was the 5th graders using hand saws to saw the popsicle sticks to an even smaller size. The students were clearly briefed in safety, and the saws appeared to be very dull, which put my concerns at ease!

Global Learning

In the end of February, Dr Z called off a week of class while he was in Jordan for a Global Education Conference.

He was able to Skype into class with some of his colleagues from Jordan and Australia. This was a really fun experience (especially since it was around 10:00 at night in Jordan… I think they had a long day!). It was really neat to hear that the things we are talking about in class are not just happening in class, but all over the world. A really eye-opening experience, for sure!

Here is Dr Z’s blog post, which features some video from our class talking to everyone! http://drzreflects.blogspot.com/2012/02/broadcasting-from-jordan.html

Problem Based Learning

As I mentioned in my last post, Project Based Learning is a new form of instruction that seeks to solve a problem, and present the solution. Dr. Z often calls it “Passion Based Learning”, as the aim is to get students passionate at solving the problem that is presented to them.

Our group (Team #IDK)  are all special education minors, and chose our problem to be the stereotypes that are put on many special education students, specifically labels that are often placed on them. Our students would create a video that shows how they are an individual, and more than a label that a disability might put on them.

As a special education minor, I really question the effectiveness of PBL in a special education setting. In my classes and experiences in special education, direct, explicit instruction is necessary. PBL is not set up to include the amounts of direct instruction that is needed, and not set up for the amount of reteaching that I have found students need so much of in special education. I will most likely use the exploration that PBL emphasize as a type of culmination activity for my students. I think that will fit best in the curriculum that I will teach in a special education classroom.


Visit to Price Lab (Iowa R&D School)

In February, we visited Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls for CCA.

We were able to sit in on a physics classroom that was integrating 1:1 computing into the curriculum. I took 2 years of physics in high school, and let me tell you, a 1:1 environment would have helped me grasp the subject much better. Physics is the ultimate mash-up of math and science, and without graphs and experiments, it would be next to impossible to comprehend. Using Excel on their Macbooks, the students in this class were making graphs to show how fast a block would accelerate going down an incline, and how this would change if the incline were steeper.

After observing the classroom, we talked to another teacher about her use of Problem Based Learning. PBL’s are a new form of instruction to me, and it was really neat to see how passionate the students got about their projects. As a teacher, this passion is what we strive for, and PBL’s are a form of unleashing this passion.

Collaborative Tools

In CCA, we have used collaborative tools frequently.

We began by taking notes collaboratively using Google Docs, which was overwhelming at first. When we tried this again in smaller groups, it was much more manageable!

Since then, we have done every project in Google Docs. This format allows for everyone in the group to type their part of the project at the same time, in real time. This really speeds up the work experience, and allows us to work on the projects when we are not in class.

I’ve even began using Google Docs in other experiences. For my Special Education field experience this semester, my partner and I did every paper and lesson in Google Docs. This allowed us to collaborate when it fit in our schedule, and easily edit and share our work. I will definitely use this in other experiences when co-teaching is necessarily, as well!